Re: Hey Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?

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Posted by Michael Wendorf on March 01, 1999 at 14:21:44:

In Reply to: Re: Hey Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm? posted by Steve Price on March 01, 1999 at 11:57:18:

: Dear Michael,

: Without intending to be contentious about the matter, I differ. "Science" is actually a whole lot of people, many of whom hold the orthodox position (the most widely held paradigm of the time), but some of whom do not. Given my background, Copernicus isn't good example for me to use for argument. On the other hand, I am a biologist and am right now smack in the middle of my course, "Revolutions in Biology", so I am reasonably comfortable with that subject.

: Let's take the Darwinian revolution that occurred in what ruggies would call the third quarter of the 19th century. Darwin was not the only person in his time to believe that new species arose by evolution from pre-existing ones, or that the driving force for this was natural selection. And, when his revolution was over, there were still substantial numbers of people who thought he was wrong (there still are). That is, there was more than one paradigm before Darwin, and more than one afterwards.

: Nonetheless, I think almost anyone familiar with the subject (inlcuding those who disagree with Darwin's position) would agree that Darwin was biology's most significant revolutionary and that ORIGIN OF SPECIES generated a clear, long lasting paradigm shift in the discipline. This, I believe, is true in spite of the fact that "science" was not unanimous in its disbelief of evolution by natural selection before Darwin nor was it unanimous in acceptance of it after Darwin. Indeed, a paradigm shift is almost unthinkable without the notion that two paradigms can coexist simultaneously (for a while, at least). The alternative is to imagine the shift happening more or less simultaneously to everyone. That just isn't how things happen.

: "Science" is not monolithic, and there are many subareas within biology (and, I am sure, other sciences as well) in which there are multiple schools of thought based on differing simultaneous paradigms.

: There is much more lack of unanimity about details in Rugville than there is about basic principles, which appear to me to reflect some fairly widely accepted underlying paradigm, at least in the community of mainstream collectors.

: Steve Price

Dear Steve:
I do not read anything you have written as being
contentious and you certainly do not need to apologize
for differing with my views or those of Thomas Kuhn.
Your Darwin example is a good one. Certainly not
everyone accepted the Copernican model, at least not for
a long time. I think Kuhn would explain this by referring
back to the successive stages of refinement. The job
of scientists or others working within the paradigm is
to try to match the paradigm to the observed phenomena and
if the new paradigm does not serve well then there will
be other paradigms that evolve. I still do not see
enough fundamental agreement in the rug world to create
a paradigm. As Yon Bard has pointed out, we may agree on
how to analyize structure. My point is maybe, but have we
agreed on what structure means. A lot of memory has been
used to discuss what is a tribal rug, can we create a system
to evaluate the beauty of a rug etc. I do not think there is
enough consensus on who made what when and why to say there
is a paradigm unless we get pretty basic such as do we prefer
vegetal colors to synthetic. While "mainstream collectors"
might agree, I am not certain this is a big enough sample of
the rug world. The Internet facilitates our discussion, but
does facilitate agreement on the real issues that have been
so heavily debated just in these Salons over the past several
Thanks for sharing your viewpoint. Michael

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